Weblog: Betting Shop Manager of the Year
Write off Dettori at your peril, he usually costs us!
YORK’s fabulous Ebor meeting started with the all-conquering Frankel giving a masterful display in winning the Juddmonte International, and climaxed with the now all-conquering Frankie taking the Betfred Ebor, after an incredible 25 years of trying. Frankie Dettori won on Godolphin's Willing Foe, but only after surviving a stewards’ inquiry to keep Europe's richest handicap.
Punters’ opinion of Frankie here in Selkirk is mixed - one of those strange quirks that I sometimes find it hard to get my head around. Most of the punters love him. His record is outstanding and the longevity of his career remarkable. He has ridden winners in about every corner of the globe and is possibly the most recognisable jockey still riding today, a real household name. There are a few in here though that would rather have an apprentice mount their selections than Frankie, something that I find strange given his record. The victory on Willing Foe cost this shop a few pounds as we had some chunky bets on a first Ebor for Mr Dettori, and even the stewards couldn't leave the delighted punters sweating as Scotbet pay both first past the post and official results on all bets.
So the punters did not face punishment, but the jockey in question certainly was and now Dettori will be missing the first three days of the St. Leger meeting after receiving two day ban for careless riding and four for misuse of the whip.
It has re-opened the 'should they/shouldn't they' keep the race debate here and outsiders looking in must wonder how you can have a jockey getting a six day ban for his performance but still be the winner of the race. Given the very minimal contact when Victoria Pendleton was disqualified at the recent Olympic cycling event comparisons are bound to be made, but in my opinion the two sports are entirely different and I don't think there should or will be any change soon to the current rulings.
Frankie Dettori has had quite a summer, from being written off in some quarters before winning the Ascot Gold Cup on Colour Vision to this recent success. Ironically that victory on Colour Vision was also only confirmed after the stewards had made a decision after an inquiry. Many would have you believe that there was some thought from the powers that be at Godolphin on who would be the number one jockey for the 'boys in blue', with Mickael Barzalona being hotly tipped to take over the riding duties in the big races. Write off Dettori at your pearl though as it now seems that is a hat-trick of decisions to go Dettori's way.
If Frankie cost us dearly in the big race, it was still not as much as Aussie star Ortensia did on Friday when landing the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes. After winning the King George Stakes at Glorious Goodwood a few weeks back Ortensia had been all the rage in the lead up to Friday's feature race. Alas, this awful summer continued and York got the rain it was expecting; and the same rain that trainer Paul Messara was dreading. Morning reports suggested there may even of been a doubt of Ortensia's participation, the ground, described as good here, was apparently more akin to heavy in Ortensia's southern hemisphere homeland. It looked to be a struggle and Ortensia was bringing up the rear until a wicked turn of foot and suddenly the line could not come quick enough for Spirit Quartz or our bosses. A string of ante-post bets as well as the biggest single of the week were landed.
To think that Black Caviar dismissed Ortensia with the same arrogance as the mighty Frankel does his opponents gives some indication of just how strong the Aussie sprint division is just now. All in all the Ebor meeting has been a fantastic advert for northern racing, the only blight on the meeting being the tragic fatal injuries sustained by potential superstar horse Newfangled and Brave Command. Newfangled broke down and there was originally optimism that the injury may not have cost the horse its life, but after two days of the very best intensive veterinary treatment there was no other option and the horse was put to sleep. A terrible shame for all involved and connections will be devastated with the loss of a horse with the world at its feet.
Racing from abroad has been sensational in recent weeks, with both the French scene and America providing top class entertainment. The amount of Group and Listed racing on Sundays of late has been incredible, and it has really hammered home the lack of quality we are providing on what, in my opinion, should be a much busier day. We still have a shorter day in Selkirk on a Sunday and I think that is great for staff morale. You can plan special events without worrying about having to cover shifts or requesting days off and I'm certainly not advocating a change here, although I appreciate we may be the exception to the rule and many betting shop staff do have to cater for people on a Sunday evening. I just feel that rather than having Saturdays as jam packed as they are, we could be sharing out the fixtures a bit better so as to give punters who enjoy racing something a bit more entertaining to look at.
Racing’s deep rooted historical values are an issue and I don't profess to have all the answers to this one, far from it in fact, but I find it intriguing as to how the French and Irish have managed to factor in Sundays as a day for top class fare.
I remember working in as a manager in Sports Connection in Livingston and a Sunday was a brilliant day, busy and vibrant with the reduced hours meaning at times you had just as many people coming through the doors as you had on the traditionally busier Saturday. I understand that sports retail shopping and going to the betting shop are entirely different things, but I honestly can't see any reason why the same principles would not exist.
Already we have had enquiries for prices on the X-Factor and with Strictly Come Dancing and I'm a Celebrity just round the corner it might sound like silly season is on the way. Reality TV is becoming more and more popular and that reflects on how betting shops have changed over the years.
Since betting shops moved from side-streets to high streets they have been fitted to be as comfortable and as inviting as any quality cafe or restaurant. The smoking ban has made for cleaner, brighter outlets and people who would maybe have felt out of place in the bookies now enjoy catching up with friends and these novelty bets.
It's all about having fun and it goes to show the changing face of bookmaking that such diverse events are readily available. I'll leave it to my Tracy to keep me up to date with the comings and goings though, I'd far rather believe that 'Big Brother' was watching me that I was watching Big Brother. Thanks for reading.